Published Oct 23, 2020Where do racists listen to music? As it turns out, they get their groove on at the same places as everyone else. Despite widespread anti-hate policies, major streamers — including Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music and Deezer — are all home to racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic content, according to a new study.
A BBC investigation discovered that all four of the major listening platforms were found to have extensive libraries of hateful content, including songs that celebrate the Holocaust, the "Aryan nation," white power, and even material that samples a speech by Hitler.
At least 20 songs were identified in the investigation, which the BBC promptly brought to the attention of the streamers. The BBC did point out, however, it was hard to quantify the true scale of the problem.
For its part, Spotify was found to have a song containing the following lyrics promoting white supremacy: "So wake from your bed, and raise your head / Aryan child, listen to what is said / So rise your hand and learn to love your land / For the white revolution needs your uncorrupted hand."
In a statement regarding the allegations, Spotify said that it is "continuously developing, improving, and implementing monitoring technology that identifies content in our service that violates our policy, including but not limited to, content flagged as hate content."
Youtube Music, Apple Music and Deezer shared similar sentiments about their content filters with the BBC, with varying levels of subsequent takedowns of the offending content. While all of the streamers do staff employees to hunt down offensive material, it appears some hate content will always slip by unless a structural change is made, as they all rely heavily on user reports to pinpoint uploads that violate their terms.
Overall, the investigation found content associated with more than 30 hate groups on the platforms. The BBC explained that it decided not to name the bands or the songs in an attempt to stop users from searching out the hateful content.
"The onus is on streaming platforms to do a better job at monitoring and searching for this music. They simply need to invest more," said Eric Ward, a civil rights strategist at the Western States Center. "This is about the credibility of a company and a brand. Brands are important and white power music will damage your streaming brand."